American figure skater Alex Shibutani and his sister Maia are breaking stereotypes left, right and centre at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. On Sunday, the siblings helped Team USA win bronze in a figure skating team event, making them the first Asian-American ice dancing team to become Olympic medallists.
Sharing his joy with his fans on Instagram, Alex wrote a powerful message about breaking the mould and embracing what makes you different.
"When we started skating together, Maia and I didn't see any teams on the ice that looked like us. There weren't too many sibling teams either," he wrote on Monday. "Being so 'different' could have been a warning sign ... but we were nine and 12 years old and didn't see ourselves as 'different.' We were just having a blast skating together."
The fact that the Shibutanis are siblings has raised more than a few eyebrows among Olympic viewers since the Games started.
In his Instagram post, Alex eloquently addressed his tight-knit bond with his sister, who he has been skating with for the past 14 years.
"We have become successful BECAUSE we are siblings and family. Not in spite of that fact," he wrote. "We have challenged ourselves to grow, innovate, and embrace what makes us different from other teams BECAUSE our differences are what make us unique."
He then concluded his post by telling his fans that it's OK to break the mould.
"When someone tells you that you can't do something or that your success will be limited because of how you look, or who you are, keep moving forward," he wrote. "Set yourself apart by finding a way to utilize your strengths. Never stop believing in yourself."
"You don't have to fit the mould or follow the path that everyone else is on. Just find, and be yourself."
On Instagram, fans thanked Alex for his inspiring message.
"Your relationship [with your sister] and the fact that you manage to be at this level despite everything is so inspiring," one wrote. "Congrats to both of you! dont stop doing what you love and keep inspiring others."
"RESPECT," another simply added.
While 26-year-old Alex and 23-year-old Maia, affectionately known as the Shib Sibs, have worked hard to achieve their success, they credit their immigrant mother and her unfailing support for helping them reach their goals.
"When our mom was growing up, her passion was music. She knew what it meant to dream about something and work hard to achieve her goals," Maia said in a video tribute to their mother.
"While she was never a skater, she recognized our passion for our sport and has put all of her energy into supporting us in any way that she can," Alex added. "We wouldn't be us without her."
The Shib Sibs are certainly redefining what it means to be an Olympic figure skater, but they aren't the only Olympians of Asian descent to make waves at the 2018 Winter Games.
Figure skater Mirai Nagasu, of Team USA, made history at the Olympics this year for being the first American woman to nail a triple axel at the Games, and snowboarder Chloe Kim won Team USA gold in the women's halfpipe competition.
Clearly Asian-American athletes are changing the face of sport.